November 2, 2016 / 9:00 PM / 3 years ago

Philadelphia transit strike talks continue into night

(Reuters) - Talks to resolve a strike by Philadelphia’s transit workers that has stranded thousands of commuters have made some progress, the U.S. union and the transport company said during the stoppage’s second day.

About 4,700 workers represented by the Transport Workers Union Local 234 went on strike early on Tuesday after they were unable to reach a contract agreement with Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). The system provides almost 1 million rides a day.

The strike has raised fears that it could hamper residents as they try to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election. Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans in Philadelphia, the fifth-biggest U.S. city, while Pennsylvania is a key presidential swing state.

SEPTA and union representatives “are still at the bargaining table. There was some progress made late last night and they went back to the table this morning,” SEPTA spokeswoman Heather Redfern said by phone.

She declined to give details about progress in the talks, which center on health-care benefits, pensions and working conditions. The strike does not affect commuter rail lines outside Philadelphia.

The two sides were still in talks on Wednesday night, union spokesman Jamie Horwitz said in a phone interview.

“We started seeing some positive efforts last night, but we moved an inch,” Horwitz, of the Transport Workers Union, said earlier on Wednesday.

He said formal talks were held at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown hotel, though informal contacts occurred at various venues.

With mass transit shut down, Indego, Philadelphia’s bike-share system, has seen a sharp increase in use, with about 3,500 trips on Monday, up from a normal 2,400, a spokesman said.

Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Alan Crosby

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